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Is it just you, or does the cost of a wedding seem really high these days? We promise, you aren’t alone. Working in the wedding industry, we’ve seen the average cost of weddings continue to rise over the past several years—in 2023, it was estimated at around $29,000 (Zola). You want your dream wedding, but you’ve also got bills to pay…so what do you do?
First, know that we’re here to help. At Holden, one of our core philosophies is to make the wedding and engagement ring shopping experience more accessible for all, and we understand that a huge piece of accessibility is financial. Everyone deserves the opportunity to host a memorable and beautiful wedding! Luckily, we have plenty of tips on how to throw an affordable or cheap wedding without breaking the bank. Consider us your budget wedding planner.
1. Book Ahead and Consider an Off-Peak Wedding Date
It’s always advisable to book ahead whenever you can, as you might save big on wedding expenses by booking the venue and any other pricey vendors well in advance. Though you may have always dreamed about having a summer wedding, there’s a high chance it will also come with a high price tag. Instead, think about having it during later winter or early spring, since this time is considered off-season and prices will generally be lower. Additionally, you may want to think about throwing a weekday wedding, since these dates are sometimes less popular (though more people are beginning to catch on to this tip, so it won’t always be the case).
2. Keep the Venue Local—or if You’re in a Big City, Consider the ‘Burbs!
This one’s a no-brainer. Travel expenses should be avoided at all costs if you’re trying to stick to a budget. If you live in a suburban or rural area, it’s best to keep your wedding local! Not only will you save on travel, but it’s likely that most of your costs will be lower than they are in more popular big-city wedding destinations. Already living in a metro area? Many couples have saved money by choosing a venue in the suburbs, where many things tend to be less expensive.
3. Choose a Space That’s Already Beautiful, and Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
When deciding on a venue, think outside the box. You can save on wedding decor by selecting a space that’s already beautiful: why not throw your reception or ceremony at a local art gallery, library, or botanical garden? Know someone with a gorgeous backyard who would be willing to let you borrow it for the day, so all you have to do is rent a tent, tables, and chairs? If you are comfortable with a more low-key reception, consider renting a private room in a local restaurant for a few hours. Getting creative may even allow you to come up with some really amazing ideas! We take regular inspiration from r/weddingsunder10k on Reddit, where we recently saw someone throw a beautifully put-together wedding at a local gas station (we’re not kidding). And if you do need to spruce up the place a bit, consider opting for faux flowers or greenery, since these will typically be much cheaper than fresh florals. If you need real flowers on your special day, we definitely recommend planning around what will be in season!
4. Consider Virtual Invites & DIY Where You Can
Going virtual for your wedding invites, save-the-dates, and thank you’s may be controversial to some—but this is one of our favorite tips as it’s also the most environmentally-friendly option! Printing invites can get pricey quickly, so why not save some trees and use Paperless Post or an Etsy template to email invites to your guests? You can always make a few printed invitations for Grandma, Mom, or anyone who you anticipate might miss the keepsake! Pro tip: Etsy templates are also great for things like menus or any signage you want to have for the day.
5. Go Smaller for the Guest List and Wedding Party
We’re not suggesting you don’t invite Uncle Bob, but cutting down on how many friends and family you invite may help you keep things within budget. Venues often charge by headcount, and less mouths to feed will help you save on drinks (especially if you’re having an open bar…), food, and favors (if favors are important to you—though they aren’t necessary!). Having a smaller wedding party also helps keep costs down, since boutonnieres, bouquets, and gifts definitely add up as well. Can’t leave anyone out of the celebrations? Consider having a separate, virtual invite list, since technology makes it possible to stream video of your ceremony and reception. This is also a helpful tip in the event that important out-of-towners can’t make the big day!
6. Make the Most of Your Registry
If there’s a specific reason that you’re on a tighter budget—perhaps you’re saving for a home, or there’s a little one on the way—you can definitely use your registry to your advantage! These days, it’s not uncommon for people to forego a standard registry and create a honeymoon fund with a site like Hitchd (which can also be used to create a fund for pretty much anything). Some banks also have programs that allow couples to establish a special account for a down payment on a home, which guests can then contribute to in lieu of a physical wedding gift, say, that toaster oven you definitely don’t need.
7. Leverage Help From Family and Friends Wherever You Can
Have a friend or family member that has tied the knot recently? They may have extra decor lying around that can be repurposed for your own celebration (if not, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are excellent places to look!). You can also leverage help from your community for a wedding cake or even wedding dresses if you happen to know a great baker, seamstress, or tailor (sample sales, trunk shows, and rental sites are great places to look for attire as well). It’s always advantageous to ask around to see what those you know may be able to offer—and you’d be surprised how generous people can be! Many people will ask a loved one to officiate, but have you considered asking one to DJ? Anyone you know with epic playlist-making skills may be able to create something special for you to dance the night away to!
8. Consider a Cocktail or Brunch Reception
Though a cash bar is always an option, it’s not the only way to cut down on food and beverage costs at your wedding. Have you considered serving beer, wine, and a signature cocktail instead? Hosting a cocktail-style reception can help you save on food so long as you have enough h’ors d’oeuvres to go around! If you do go for a plated meal, you can always supplement your wedding caterers’ food with salads, cheese plates, and/or bread from a bulk retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club. Or maybe you’d be down for a morning or daytime wedding? If this is the case, serve brunch! It’ll generally be a lot cheaper and you could even go alcohol-free. One idea we’re absolutely obsessed with is skipping the booze and creating a coffee bar with all the fixings!
9. Consider a Smaller Cake For Cutting and an Alternate Dessert For Guests
If you have tiered wedding cake dreams, absolutely go for it! But if you’re looking for another way to pinch pennies, you might want to go with a simpler, smaller wedding cake for cutting (and photos!). If this idea strikes your fancy, don’t forget dessert for your guests. Cupcakes are a great option, but any small, sweet treat should suffice!
10. Don’t Skimp on Photo and Video—You’ll Want to Remember This Day Forever!
Considering downgrading your photography and videography budget? It might be your number one regret. So what if your wedding isn’t at the Ritz? You’ll still want to remember this day for the rest of your life! However, if you do know any amateur photographers or videographers looking to build up their portfolios, having them capture the day could be a good option (just make sure you like their work ahead of time). No matter who you choose to man the cameras, you may want to limit video time to certain special moments you know you’ll want to remember in the interest of keeping costs down.
The bottom line? It’s definitely possible to throw a real wedding on a budget, while still throwing a celebration that you and your guests will remember fondly for years to come. At the end of the day, the best tip we can provide is to evaluate what means the most to you and your guests, and to keep an open and creative mindset when exploring ways to stay within your budget! And since there’s no way we could include every budget-friendly tip on this list, please give us a shout if you have any ideas we can pass along to the rest of the Holden community. We don’t believe in gatekeeping here!
Any other budget friendly wedding tips you’ve discovered while wedding planning? Send us an email at email@example.com!
Questions? Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or a ring (pun intended) at .